9 Diet Traps You Must Avoid

JUST LIKE TRAINING, healthy eating is much more than just knowing the basics. Sure, you probably realize by now that downing a plate of deep-fried onion rings isn’t exactly conducive to maintaining a rock-solid midsection. But what about all those lesser-known acts of food sabotage that could be creeping into your everyday eating habits? Some, like eating too fast, could seem rather benign at first, but in fact can be a big reason your physique is more doughy than chiseled. Read on for nine surprising — yet all-too-common — diet traps.

1. You shop on a whim

The Trap: A report in The Journal of Consumer Research showed that individuals who make stimulus-based decisions when shopping — instead of choosing items based on what’s on a list — are more likely to succumb to urges for junk food (like that two-for-one deal on cheese puffs). This is because grocery stores are designed to overpower the senses; walking in without a detailed list almost guarantees you’ll come out of the store with items you never intended to purchase — especially junk food.

How to Avoid It: Plan out a week’s worth of healthy meals and snacks, then make a detailed list from your menu — and stick to it. This will save money, too, and protect you from budget- and waistline-wrecking impulse buys.

2. You wolf down your food

The Trap: Inhaling your food can give you a physique that looks more station wagon than Ferrari. When you feel like you’re starving, it’s only natural to eat fast, but a 2013 study by British researchers discovered that people who chewed each bite of their lunch for at least 30 seconds consumed half as much candy later in the day as those who ate more quickly. The researchers concluded that chewing food at a snail’s pace can help you remember meals for longer, so you’re less apt to reach for nutritionally corrupt snack foods later on.

How to Avoid It: Put down your utensils after every bite and thoroughly chew your food. (Will that seem agonizingly slow at first? Yes, but you’ll get used to it.) The more time it takes to eat, the more satisfied you’ll be. You’ll eat only what you need at that meal and be less likely to cheat later.

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